I’ve never really formed a relationship with any of my professors freshman year, and I was wondering how anyone actually does it. Most of my classes have hundreds of people, and even the office hours are held lecture style, so it’s hard to have a one-on-one conversation.
If I did see them alone though and wanted to have a conversation with them, how would I even go about doing it? I feel like I would have no idea what professors want to talk about or how to start talking about anything outside of the actual class with them.
Keep in mind that, as daunting as it is to speak with professors, many of them do want to get to know their students. As you mentioned, it is definitely more difficult with the sheer number of students to speak with your professors one-on-one, but there are ways to get around it. For one, try to speak up in class, whether that’s asking good questions that demonstrate your interest in the material or answering questions, to show you know what you’re talking about and really to make your face stand out in a crowd. Another way is to approach them one-on-one after class; even though there might be 20 other students waiting for the exact same opportunity, the professor won’t know that you want to form a relationship with them if you never take the first step in trying to do so. If you do encounter a professor outside of the classroom setting, as you asked in your question, I think that talking about the class itself is a great place to start. Introduce yourself, and maybe ask them questions about the subject matter or their research (if relevant). In short, demonstrate that you want to get to know them more, and most professors will be receptive to that. If face-to-face communication is a little too intimidating, try to reach out with an email to set up an appointment. Have a few set questions to ask them, and be ready to answer some questions about yourself. From there, it’s all about constant communication and reaching out to maintain the relationship, and that can be done as you see fit.